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Center gets grant





Hays Medical Center's Breast Care Center has received a sizable grant to help the clinic expand its navigation program and patient resources. The grant, totaling $49,710, is from Susan G. Komen of Mid-Kansas.

The Wichita-based charity hosted its first Race for the Cure in Hays on May 11; a second fundraising event was in Wichita. The Hays event raised approximately $110,000, and 75 percent of the money was donated to western Kansas programs. The remaining 25 percent will benefit breast cancer research.

"When you have events like that and they tell you the money stays in Kansas, I think it's important for people to see tangible (results)," said Nicole Spray, a nurse practitioner at the Breast Care Center.

At HaysMed, the money will be used to help supplement the salary of a new full-time nurse who will work as a patient navigator. Navigation includes helping patients find the resources they need, as well as helping to coordinate their care among various specialties, such as radiation, surgery and chemotherapy.

"Her job will be working with patients from perhaps the time they need a biopsy to diagnosis to treatment, then on to survivorship," Spray said of the new employee. "So she'll kind of be that consistency for them and hopefully make their process seamless."

Spray previously had been doing as much navigation as possible but now will be able to dedicate her time solely to seeing patients.

"I think we'll be able to broaden what we have to offer patients," she said.

Some of the grant money also will be used to continue the clinic's gas card program to help patients who might not have the resources to drive to Hays for appointments. That program was launched with last year's Komen grant and has helped fill a need, Spray said.

This year's grant is the largest HaysMed has received so far from the Komen foundation. Last year's grant was approximately $37,000.

The Breast Care Center also will use the grant money to host two regional outreach events planned in Scott City and Osborne. Funds also will benefit two special programs planned for breast cancer survivors later this year.

A significant amount of Komen funding, more than $100,000, will benefit the Kansas Department of Health and Environment's Early Detection Works program. The program provides breast screenings and diagnostic services to eligible women and has benefited many local patients, said Dr. Anne O'Dea, a medical oncologist specializing in breast care.

"People sometimes have periods of time in their life when they're without insurance just because of hard circumstances," she said. "It's really to make sure they don't have gaps in their care. That program would not exist in our state without Komen."